Ll \' 1 N(i
1 1 at;faDimk A Daa .
\ BUND ANT. lN'tUAM€E
PKICK -4^) < i:n'18.
iMitered according: tn Ac i mI ( i)iii;i\ss, in tU^ yeai
l)\ .Mi.>. I.. II M^i\M(M in, ill the Otticc oi' ilu- Librarian >>( (imgress,
at Waslnna'ton, 1 ) ( .
How A Lady.
HAVING LOST A SUFFICIENT INCOME
— l-ROM —
BY MISPLACED CONFIDENCE.
I\EDUCED TO A LITTLE HOMESTEAD WHOSE EHTIRE INCOME IS BUT
$40.00 PEt\ ANNUM.
ReSOLVKD lO HOI.n it. INCURRIN(i NO Dkbts
AM> I.IVK WITHIN IT. HOW SHB: HAS LlVF.D FOR ThRKK
YKARS. and S'JTI.L I.IVES ON HALF A HIMK A DAY.
MHilM) 1(1 WHICH IS-
HKH -HI- M \s I MINI) IIMK K) WKITE, KMiil.KK
I ^m) ANT ENTRANCE."
PRICK. '^5 CW«.ii|?:^y
John M. U as i.s, Tvi'or.RAi'HER. Kdktv Kdi.ton Sikekt.
Triis TALK is a fkithftil narrative of facts by a woman
educated, reared in abundance, and left with a competence,
which she used freely for benevolent purposes, but whose
l^roperty was i-uthlessly destroyed, and she left sick, crippled,
with impending blindness, and no friends to look to tor
support. It was ])repared for a lecture, but illness rendered
its delivery impo8sil)le. It is printed at the su-i>estion of
You will liardly dissent if I say it wimld be easier to tell
liow to die on five cents a day than how to live on that
sum ; perhaps 1 should say exist, rather than live. It is keep-
ing soul and bodv together on a small annuity, and I mav
say in the outset that to live on half a dime a day will prove
an infallible "anti-fat" remedy. All the patent bottles ad-
vertised to prevent obesity will have to point heads down,
and beat a retreat to '' Coventry " before this bill of fare.
But I must admit that five cents, as a rule, only buys the
food of a day, and other things than victuals are needed to
enable a person to support life. There must be a place to
live in, certainly ; there must be clothing, and fire in cold
T had an old house and some land. I <iOt twenty dollars
for grass, twelve for pasturing ; in good years, three for
apples. There was no work 1 could do owing to a crippled
arm and blinded eye, save knitting and making mock flowers.
The utmostf I could ever earn in a year was fifteen dollars.
Here, then, was exactly fifty dollars, from which ten must
l)e deducted for taxes. With the remainiui^ forty I was not
only to make " hotl* ends meet," Init all ends meet, and
twist into a neatly knotted skein, as my frugal gift to each
succeeding New Year. Three years my "offering'' has
been made. T have " ijot round " on the forty dollars. It
has been accomplished through contrivance, self-denial, and
Von have heard of the man who " awoke one morning
and found himself famous.'' I awoke one morning and
4 HALF A DJME A DAY.
found myself poor— so sudden as that! or, I don't know as
I can say I awoke— I was like one in a dazed dream for
months, an awful dream, in which a frightful incubus
stretched itself across my gasping life, and paralyzed me
with cold, clammy terror. I was as one stunned, and knew
not what to do. There was the old roof above me, dearer
than life. To sell or mortgage it seemed like disgracing
myself in the eyes of the world and dishonoring my an-
cestors. But I had not a dollar of money left, and I had
no health. Thus there was no work to which I could turn
to earn a living. You have heard of people '' living by
their wits." 1 was at my wit's end how to live. Why
didn't I let my place on shares? I was too wise, thank
you ; I had tried that twice too many times in former years.
For the same reason I did not take a familv into the house.
In that country place I could not have got rent enough to
pay for damages done the buildings, nor could I have borne
the unavoidable noise and annoyance of a family in my ill
health and nervous debility. So there were forty dolhirs per
annum I could reasonably count on. At the prospect my
stomach began to fall into a collapsed state, *' Twenty of
this forty I must spend for food," 1 thought. But the pur-
pose was hardly fledged before war to the teeth was de-
" It shall never be," said the mind ; " I care nothing about
your old body ; it must go to dust soon, any way. You
must understand I sha'n't starve, and I sha'n't eat trash,
either. I have always had the best, and the best 1 must
have still. Understand, once for all, that I rule, and make
your plans accordingly."
Thus mind stepped to the front with a bold standard dis-
played, and it was for me to quietly recognize its position.
I would live on seventeen dollars, and save three to con-
tinue my first-class weekly (C. TL), with its unrivalled edito-
rials and Christian instruction. There was still the other
half of the forty dollars unappropriated. I sorely wanted
to take enough from it to supply me with two of the best
HALF A DIME A DAY. 5
iiiHirazines. 1 however ventured on but one, thinking there
would be two or three books in course of tlie year 1 should
feel as if I must have.
" Wliat expensive tastes !" one and another will exclaim.
Ah, people differ in their ideas as to what is and what is not
expensive. To pamper the body and famish the mind I
should deem the most ruinous and wicked extravagance ; and
a so-called cheap newspaper, which deals in the *' abomina-
tions of society, and dumps the tilth of the world " at your
door every week, would have been a far too expensive in-
vestment for me. I could afford no such luxury. Seven-
teen dollars of my forty I assigned to supply food, ten for
reading, leaving thirteen for fuel. I fortunately had enough
wood on hand when the great loss befell to last two-thirds
through a winter. The next one I got through with one
cord, and sawed it myself, which saved a dollar and a half.
I could only, with my disabled arm, worry off a few sticks
for my tire each day. In very cold spells I took a warm
freestone and crawled into bed. I was too ill to work, and
thus to do saved tirewood. 1 would put mittens on my
hands and read a while, and when the room became too cold
for this, cover all up and think over what 1 had read. This
saved me in a degree from enervating myself further by
fruitless poring over poverty and privations.
I had enough bed-clothes for comfort, but my own ward-
robe, with the exception of one black suit, was pretty low
when the loss came. I never bought a dress or pair of shoes
for moie than three years ; it was entirely beyond my means
to buy any article of clothing. So I had to tax both inge-
nuity and industry to get together garments enough tor
comfort and decency.
I had a palm-tigured dressing-gown, lined with purplish
tiannel; the outside of this was all in tatters, while the
lining was good. I ripped it in pieces, washed and pressed
the flannel, got out enough of the palm-tigures to make three
bands around the skirt and sleeves. These helped to hide
holes and faded spots in the flannel : then I ravelled an old
6 HALF A DIME A DAY.
scarlet, worsted under-sleeve, and trimmed each band with
a narrow, fluted edge. So I had a quite dressy dressing-
o-own — clean, whole — almost tasteful, and I took genuine
comfort planning, piecing it out, day after day, with -half
mittens on my cold hands, sitting close to a cold Are. I was
more than a week about it, for owing to shortness of lire-
wood my days were very short, and my lame hand was very
decrepid and painful. I recollected that when I had made
this wrapper out of an abundance of nice, new materials, I
had been quite impatient at having to sew on it for two
days, and called in help to finish it otf. People who saw it
after it was remodelled, said it was handsomer than when it
was new, and it is certain I thought a good deal more of it.
I said then, and have had occasion to say many times
since, I was glad 1 bought good materials when 1 had the
means, for they could be worked over a second, even a third
time, to much better prolit and advantage.
I made a whole common suit out of an old straw-bed -
tick, and out of the fragments of a pair of blue drilling
overalls some former workman had left on the premises cut
narrow strips and stitched on the skirts for trimmings. Well,
1 suppose I was proud, and determined to have some
"style'' about my garments. At a little distance my suit
appeared like a neat, striped print, or more like a substan-
tial gingham, and it had the wear of half-a-dozen calicoes
in it. Indeed, it comes out like a new one every season,
and bids fair to outlast the owner, and descend to pos-
terity as an invention — may I not say, and escape the charge
of vanity ( — of both genius and necessity. My bed-tick
gown! Will not some poet step forth and give it immor-
Shoes and stockings were a problem for a long time
Shoes I had to learn to do without for the most part. One
decent j^air 1 trould keep, but these could not be indulged
in every day ; such extravagance was not to be thought of,
T took the soles of worn-out rubbers, lined them with flan-
nel, and laced them on my feet as sandals.
HALF A DIME A DAY.
At length I found a knitted shawl that had been in wear,
I suppose, a quarter of a century, and quite a number of
under-garments, which had been knit by hand out of home-
spun yarn in the old days when my father's flocks had
whitened the hills, so barren and bush-grown around me
now. Then it had been the custom to have much cloth
woven, and much yarn spun on the buzzing old spinning-
wheel, for the family use. All chcse garments had been long
thrown by, faded, defaced, and past wear. They were a
mass of ends and no ends. After thoroughly washing them,
I tried the strength of the yarn, and found it unrotted and
not much moth-eaten. I had possessed myself of quite a
prize. But it was the work of weeks to ravel, tie up, wind
into skeins, color, rinse, and rewind into balls for knitting.
I found some redwood and copperas, so I had several shades
of color. Then I proceeded to knit five or six pairs of
socks, and had balls of yarn left to '' foot down " for years !
I quite revelled in an abundance of materral, and said exult-
ingly, " There is one thing 1 shall not lack again very soon,
perhaps never,'' and for a long time, the last thing before
retiring at night, I would go to the little drawer, pull it
open, and take out my socks, pair after pair, and survey
them with a fulness of satisfaction I had never in better
days experienced over the nicest of boughten worsteds, or
even silk. These were trophies of toil and contrivance;
they had cost me not a little planning and labor, and I re-
garded them as my own successful achievements under difH-
culties. Therefore they had value and favor in my eyes.
1 had fifteen mottoes in the house made on white muslin
and cotton flannel. I soaked, washed, and boiled them
clean, and supplied my drawer of linens.
I had no outside garment to wear abroad save a very old.
defaced water-proof cloak. It looked like poverty person-
ified ; it was ragged, threadbnre, the sleeves quite gone, of
a most faded and weather-beaten appearance. There had
been hanging in an outer room, I presume for fifteen years,
a rusty, fulled cloth overcoat of my father's. I don't know
8 HALF A DIMK A DA^?,
wiiv I had not ojiveii it away long before, but suppose I
rather liked to see it liang there ; it had a sort of look as if
he were somewhere around yet. I had be.n charged witli
keeping that and a great pair of boots to frighten tramps
in case they attempted any neighborliness. A sight of such
largeness in apparel might lead them to apprehend there
was a large man not far oif whose acquaintance it would
not be iudicious in them to cultivate. But I don't think J
ever attached any protective power to these articles. I
would sometimes get into them myself, when I had to go
out in a pouring rain to adjust the cistern for catching
water, or dig a snow-path to the highway in winter.
l5ut now that my wits were on the alert for means to
])iece out my wardrobe, 1 passed by nothing, and left no
article unscanned that could afford the least chance of aid.
So I ])ut my hand on the great overcoat, and lifted it oft' the
wooden peg. How heavy it was, and how rusty with age !
It was lined throughout with line black lasting, .wadded and
quilted in diamonds. My eyes gleamed as they lighted on
this! I dragged the old coat oft' to my room in triumph;
there I gloated and exulted over my prey, as I whetted a
knife and went at it. I had no mercy, but just ripped, and
ripped, and ripped, till the floor was strewn with ])art8 of
the parted garment. The other side of the thick cloth was
a line dark gray, just as bright as new. It was home-made
cloth, and had the stock and value in it. I thought so much
now of having things warm, sucli as would keep the cold
out. and thus help save fuel. Next I took my old water-
proof cloak, washed and pressed it smooth, and cut away
the worn, threadbare portions, to replace with strips of the
dark gray fulled cloth of the overcoat. I so managed that
the cloak should look as if it had been purposely trimmed
with another shade of material, and got a respectable gar-
ment that would do good service through a number of cold
The cape of this cloak had n pretty lining of broad-
plaided black-and-white flannel. This 1 removed and re-
HALF A DIME A DAY. 9
placed with some breadths of old alpaca, which answered
very well, and of the plaid iiannel I fashioned an article of
apparel suitable to wear abroad in spring and summer
weather. To make it a better size, I pieced and stitched
black gros-grain ribbon round the edge, ravelled a pair of
under-sized worsted hose to knit a fluting, and flnished this
with a ball fringe ; and it was, indeed, as pretty a cape as
most anybody had ! 1 expect, yes, I know, I was proud of
it, for I would try it on at home before the glass sometimes,
a thing I had never done with the best silk dress my palm-
iest prosperity had ever gave me.
My old cloak, renovated and remodelled by aid of the
fulled cloth overcoat, was better than new to me ; it was
surprising what satisfaction I ggt out of my hard-contrived
garments! Then there was the shiny, quilted lasting
lining; it was as to shape almost exactl}^ in the style of the
reigning cloaks of the period, and the quilting was quite
stylish, too. I had some cashmere to line and trim it, and
my cloak was a "lit;'' it was "in fashion;" it was satin,
if you did not get too near, so black and glossy was the last-
ing. If I had only been a rich woman still, everj^body
would have been exclaiming at my extravagance in buying
a quilted satin cloak ! Lest even now some person should
not see straig^ht, I have never dared wear mv cloak abroad
much. I luxuriate in it at home on cold days, it keeps out
so much cold, wadded throughout, and is as good as an oven
on my back. I put it on Thanksgiving days to give thanks
I was in a state of high exultation after such a series of
successes with the old overcoat ; it seemed now so plain why
I had kept it so many years. I fancied my father, mother,
long in heaven, saw my poor, lame fingers and purblind eye,
at work, ekeing, mending, and repairing my scant, worn
garments, so intently and industriously for days and days,
occupied and etigrossed with the labor almost to oblivion of
the hard fate, the wanton wrong, that had reduced me to
lO HALF A DIME A DAY.
But what pleased me most of all, I think, were the shoes I
got out of the old overcoat. The cloth was so thick and
iirm it would outwear a common pair of slippers. I ripped
up an old shoe to have a good pattern, and got quite a neat
fit. 1 haven't had to go without shoes since. My German
slippers are said to be prettier than those ordinarily found
at stores. They were warm, comfortable, and not unsightly.
Thev satisfied me. More than that, the mind failed not to
celebrate with the deep, strong joy which unwonted effort
and endeavor imparted, every victory gained over the su-
premacy of bodily wants. It rejoiced exceedingly over
every obstacle surmounted which hindered or disputed its
own supreme sway. The home-made shoes shut off the
shoe-bill at the store, and gave me Harper's magazine, with
pages more irradiated through the economy and contrivance
by which I had possessed myself of them, than by the
learning and genius of tiie writers, I might almost say. At
least the having worked through difficulties to obtain the
magazine imparted the keenest zest and enjoymeut to the
reading. I had fought with poverty for a prize, beat down
the grim monster, and come off victorious, and as 1 turned
the freighted, sparkling pages, my heart sang a song of
triumph. I would pull on my half-mittens, w^rap my double,
gray blanket all around me, put a freestone to my feet, and
my back to the stove with its very small fire, and go to my
reading, wondering and doubting if in any sumptuous
parlor of wealth and magnificence a lady in diamonds and
velvets sat down to her new magazine with the zest and
pleasure that I did. Of course not; every day brought new
books and periodicals to her hand, to be skimmed over and
lightly tossed aside. My one or two were read and reread
and thought upon, and the current number was not passe
when its successor came.
Thus mind fought the battle with despondency, in which
injustice, wrong, and misfortune threatened to engulf it.
There were enough to prescribe society, the diverting of
attention by outside objects. But society, such as lay around
HALE A DIME A DAY. I I
me, did not present anythini]^ worthy or engaging. To one
who had once and again proved its holUjwness and faJse ap-
pearances, its insincere professions of kindness and good
faith, it was sickening and revolting. I shrank from it as
a " burnt child dreads the lire/' It seemed unfeeling and
cruel to urge one in my circumstances to go into society.
There my mendicancy would be thrust upon my conscious-
ness in strongest shades of contrast with former ease of con-
dition. Under my own roof I was not humiliated beyond
endurance ; I kept my self-respect there ; but if I attempt-
ed any moving about in former circles, the comparison of
present with past condition forced itself on me with such
startling vividness that I was overwhelmed, and felt as if
going distracted. Everybody was trying, consciously or
unconsciously, to adapt themselves to my new situation, and
whether it was by an increased carefulness to show atten-
tion, or a haughty distance of manner, or a condescending
patronage, the one was about as killing as the other to
encounter ; and further, my dress was not equal to the de-
mands of society. Had I seen lit to forego my reading and
devote my utmost dime to it, I must still have been a shabby
appendage at a parlor party. If I could have had access to
a company of benevolent woikers, persons w^ho had a really
noble and useful purpose i'or which they lived and labored,
it would have been as power and inspiration to one in my
depression and pain. With all of life wrenched away at
once, as it were ; its long-accustomed ways and habits forced
into violent and sudden change; means gone; health gone;
the friends that had been around me in the arduous work of
a term of years gone ; a ruin in the midst of ruin, as I seemed
to myself — if I could have entered in among earnest work-
ers, and added a mite for the aid or relief of other sufferers,
it would have been as the jo}^ of salvation to me; for in my
own casting down it seemed as if the woes of all humanity
"through my heart made a thoroughfare." I was afraid
to read of the fearful sufferings of the famine-stricken in
India. All their million pangs seemed gnawing at my
12 HALF A DIME A DAV.
vitals, yet such recitals had a terrible fascination. I would
return again and again to the reading of them. I could
picture their pangs, desperation, and despair, down, down,
till starvation had finished its grim and horrible work.. And
I would long to feed them all, for I was full of pity for
their lower wants. But at length I would come back to the
thought, God seeth and takeih cognizance of all these things,
and to " him with whom a thousand years are as a day,"
what an insignificant speck and atom must this earthly life
appear! And yet because it is so fleeting and small, the more
would one like to be doing the little they can for the benefit
of their fellow-beings, tlie more they would long for some
outreaching beyond self. And so because I had nothing,
more than ever I wished to help all who were in the same
condition. I always held in reserve a dollar or two for any
special call of charity, and a pittance for the Bible and Mis-
sion cause. I could hardly have consented to breathe with-
out a single cent to bestow in benevolence. A person who
would be willing to be an unmitigated mendicant would
not be a person.
But to return to my struggle with and against material
wants. With the aid of my father's old overcoat I subdued
a good many of them for the time being, as has been
already related. The succession of the seasons demanded
changes in my wardrobe ; a flannel gown was not suited to
July and August, nor could I be wearing out in warm
weather what I should so need in cold. I thou^jht about
cutting up an old Allendale bed-spread to make me a very
grand white wrapper, but this I rejected as a temptation to
reckless extravagance. How should I ever possess myself
of another counterpane ? and this one would answer a num-
ber of years with care and darning. Then I unfolded and
scanned two red-and-white tablecloths in small checker-
work. I should never spread tables again for visitors ; these
cloths were not of much use ; they had served some years,
and had holes and stains. They would make me a cool and
serviceable wrapper— not becoming, and odd— but then few
HALF A DIME A DAY. I3
would see nie wear it, and poverty must not expect to con-
sult taste with freedom. But then to wear a tablecloth for
a dress ! to take that on which food had been spread out for
the support of the body, and make of it a covering and pro-
tection for the person ! Would tlie tablecloth be elevated
or lowered by such appropriation 'i It would be a divorce-
ment from its natural uses. I refrained my scissors for a
time; though I might never want a tablecloth again, 1
would wait and plan awhile befoi-e making the red-checkered
ones into a summer wrap. To buy a few yards of cambric
or tjalico was out of the question ; there was a fear of not
bringing the year around by the most rigid economy.
One day, behind the door of a dark closet, in an old room
where a widow's goods were stored, of which I made no use
and entered but occasionally, I put my hand on a cotton
garment, and rather wondering it should be there, took it
to the light to see what it might be. It was a chocolate-and-
white print-dress that had been my mother's. 1 recollected
of having given it to the girl who helped me through her
last illness, directly after her death and burial. The girl
had at that time occupied this old chamber ; it appeared she
had not taken the dress away with her, and year after year
had passed by with it hanging in solitary disuse behind the
dark closet-door. It was almost as if my mother herself
had come back to me, it brought such a vision of her as she
was in her last days, her little bowed, tremblino: figure clad
in the small-Hgured calico wrapper my own nimble young
fingers had made. It certainly seemed as if in this hour of
need her arm reached from die unseen to offer aid — to offer
what had been her own, and, mother-like, to offer her all.
" Take it and wear it ; it has stayed for a time like this,"
the mother-voice seemed to say. So I brought it forth,
touching it with a half reverent awe It was not long enough
for me, but it had been made before the era of gores ; thei'e
were five wide breadths in the skirt ; so I could remove a
whole one, divide it in three parts, and full the remaining
ones on to it; and whenever I caught a reflection of myself
14 HALF A DIME A DAY*.
ill a mirror moving about, it Reemed as if it was my mother
come back to me ; as if in my loneliness, loss, and pain, she
had come and clothed me with herself ! So the dress sup-
plied far more than my bodily needs ; it was company
and comfort to my mind as well, and if tears rolled down
and wet it sometimes, as the sight of it recalled but too
vividly the blessed years when sympathy, protection, and
love were my abundant possessions, they were soothing,
relieving tears, for I said, "Mother still is somewhere; the
going years are bearing me toward her ; I shall hear her
voice and have her love again."
In life's supreme moments, when stern realities press
close and hedge us in on every side, how does the mere
superficial fall to naught ! How trivial and below respect
appear the occupations and pursuits of worldlings ! Truly.
" What shadows they are, and what shadows they pursue !"
I saw people arrayed in finery, and marvelled that I could
ever have done the like. I pitied the short-sighted, low-
minded creatures, and felt ashamed for them — absorbed in
triiies — as if their clothes were their all !
" Everybody is as God made him, and oftentimes a good
deal worse," says Cervantes. Very true ; there is a better
side to every nature, which if cultivated, may bring forth
passably good fruit, but it is too often left in neglect to be
overgrown with rank and noisome weeds. It requires
thoughtfulness, effort, self-denial, to nurse it into growth,
and most people dislike such labor as this. It is easier and
pleasanter to go with the crowd, and be one with them ; live
for the present moment, in the gratification of the senses,
not the least ashamed to admit — say it even self-approving-
ly, "It is my aim to take the first care of myself, and live
just as long as I can." This is on a level with, " Eat as much
as you can, it is all you are sure of !" Some are sure of con-
siderable, even if this is all. The kingdom of heaven can
never come till everybody says, and acts up to that saying,
"It is my chief aim to help others, nor do I wish to live
HALF A DIME A DAY. 1 5
loiu^er than I can be useful in the world." '' He liveth Ions:
who liveth well.'-
Often I saw people rolling past in easy carriages, but the
slight awoke neither envy nor longing in my heart. I was
rather glad to be rid of it all. I had always preferred a walk
to a ride, and style, circumstances, had placed riding beyond
my power. Pain and apprehension of accident, having the
sore, crippled arm, made riding something to dread and
avoid as much as possible. I was distressed if asked to
ride, and had to refuse.
I suppose some lady is wondering by this time what I did
for a bonnet, and it is an easy task to give information on
this point. I simply went without one. Hat or bonnet 1
had not for four years. As I make this assertion I have a
misgiving that it will not be credited. I feel that it is an
unparalleled one in the annals of modern life and custom,
yet I could lay my hand on the Book and solemnly assert
A woman four years without a bonnet I in this enlight-
ened land, in the. latter part of the nineteenth century —
not a particularly old or sick woman either, and one who
read Mrs. Browning, the best mairazines, and all the leaduig
divines of the age, at home I Was she demented ? It is
perhaps not for me to say. 1 can only admit, that if 1 went
abroad 1 wore a romance on juy head instead of a bonnet
(not " The Blithdale "), a false appearance, a deceitful show,
wrapped about in a screening veil — some shape of a hat
destitute of trimmings, its barrenness concealed in friendly
folds of barege. It was my one deception in dress, and I
deemed it a pardonable, yea, a commendable one, under the
circumstances. I would rather wear a romance than a mort-
I knit some winter gloves of ravelled black worsted, and
for the rest, one pair of Lisle thread went through four sea-
sons ; they were washed from slate color to dirty-white, and
dyed in tea several times. I always felt my poorest when I
wore them, and sat shaniefaced and silent, as if struck
l6 HALF A DIME A DAY.
(himb at sight of my own abjectness. The careful darns
betrayed a watchful anxiety ever on tlie stretch ; a cease-
less, laborious endeavor to be decent, and were as So many
not-to-be-mistaken proofs of poverty — unwilling, extorted
confessions of want.
However hard it may be to do without the comfort,
abundance, or elegance, which may once have been our own,
it is doubtless not a poor and useless lesson to learn how
much we can do without, and yet suffer no essential loss of
what is noblest and best. To fall, or to rise, from the ad-
ventitious to the real, is in truth not a misfortune. For
such as live in a vain show, when the power to make a show
is gone, all is ^one. But if life has deeper springs, then it
can survive a drought, and make for itself some greenness
and fragrance in a bare desert of poverty and pain. All
that is adventitious — all that is human may fall away from
us — what are our resources then ? have we any ? The trial
will prove us, test our strength, and show of what mettle
we are made. A novice can manage a sailboat on a smooth
sea under a smiline: skv, when it does not need any mana-
ging ; but let the winds roar and the breakers come, and the
boat will go to the bottom, unless there is a skilled, cour-
ageous hand at the post of duty. So any poor, weak, life-
voyager can manage a calm ; it is the managing of the crisis
that is the test.
But as to the half dime a day : that is, the providing of
food for that sum. It did not take that every day, by any
means. I saved enough from this allotment to supply divers
little necessary articles— a bunch of matches, spool ot thread,
paper of needles — even a gallon of oil now and then.
Almost the year round I used a lamp-stove for cooking
purposes ; it was cheaper than fuel, and more convenient.
Kerosene in summer could be bought very low, and then I
would get enough to last through cool weather.
Sometimes I would go through a whole week on two
baker's loaves — sixteen cents; a tablespoonful of ginger,
and gill of molasses — not more than twenty-three cents, thus
HALF A DIME A DAY. 1 7
saving twelve out of the thirty-five aHotted for the week's
expenses. But tliis was wlien my health was feeble, and I
confined to couch almost altogether. I was in this state
more than a year. I made large use of cornmeal, of course
it being cheap and nutritious. One-fourth pound of meal,
one cent; one-fourth pound of dried beans, one and a half
cents; two cents' worth of salt pork ; four and a half cents
in all, would support me a day and a half very well. This
was my usual fare three days out of seven. Three cents'
worth of barley boiled with two cents' worth of butcher's
trimtnings, and three cents' worth of potatoes, would make
wholesome, nourishing food for two days, and go a long way
towards supporting existence.
I have heard it said a German can live on what a Yankee
would throw away, and a Jew could live on what a German
would throw awaj', and a Chinaman could live on what a
Jew would throw away. 1 almost thought I could bear off
the palm from the whole of them, and live on what a China-
man would throw away — if he was a clean one.
1 made a considerable use of rice and salted iish. In cool
weather, a ))ound of oatmeal cooked on Monday would serve
for a dessert through the week. Sometimes i had a ^ift of
milk, and then I feasted like an epicure. I usually allotted
a small cup of molasses as sauce and relish to a pound of
oatmeal. Now and then I had some kind of a ve^retable, as
a beet, or a turnip, and from time to time bought a few
cents' worth of butcher's scraps, moi"e to season food than to
be food. When eggs were cheap, I made use of them. I
did not buy when they were more than ten cents a dozen.
I never could make these go as far as I had heard of one
housewife doing, who would cook one for a family of five,
and after all had eaten freely, there would still be some left !
Perhaps this lady bought her ovas of an ostrich or a moa
bird ; mine were only barn-door biddies' eggs, and I was
apt to want two tor breakfast.
Once a month I indulged in a baking of gingerbread, or got
a pound of lard and fried an eating of doughnuts, about six.
I 8 HALF A DIME A DAY..
one at a time, in a tin cup over my oil-stove. I always en-
joyed the trying of the doughnnts, and looked forward
to it with a zest of anticipation ; they generally came up
plump and round, and quite filled the little cup of boiling
lard. I picked them out with a fork, and invariably ate the
iirst one while the second was cooking. After that 1 let
them congregate on a plate, and watched their numbers in-
crease to iive, six, seven — never more than that. These and
the gingerbread were usually mixed with water, and no
shortening, but if eaten warm, or pretty soon after the cook-
ing, very good, as I considered. They were my occasional
luxuries. I would think, as I tended my lonely doughnut
in the small cup of fat, of the great panfulls of brown beau-
ties I had cooked in former years, and thought very lightly
of them; not ungrateful, but regarding a full supply of all
good things for the stomach as a matter of course, never
dreaming a time would come when I must choose between
lower and higher food, a table spread for the body, or a table
spread for the mind, or of lessening the supplies of one for
the sake of furnishing out the other. Once, perhaps, I
should not have done thus. Not a few times have I been
told by those who deemed themselves much wiser than I
that I was starving myself; that it was wicked not to take
care of one's body ; nobody could live without good food.
But my food toas good, or I was greatly mistaken, for I ate
it — devoured it, I might say, with the eager relish of a grow-
ing child. It lacked in variety, perhaps ; it was not rich ; it
was fairly cooked and regularly taken, and of a kind to bring
the best returns in health and strength.
Of course I had times of longing for " the flesh-pots of
^&JP^-" ^^^ Saturdays I would think of the great bakings
going on in the houses around me, and see in fancy the array
of fresh bread-loaves, pies, and sweet cakes, on the pantry
shelves, almost seem to inhale the odors of good cooking,
and contrast this spectacle with my empty old cupboard :
empty now and evermore, or with just a pint-pot of oatmeal
in a corner, and very likely my mouth would water till 1
HALF A DIME A DAY. I9
buried myself in some book which exalted the value of the
soul, and made contemptible the course of such as live
supremely for the gratilieations of the present life. Persons
of this stamp would assert, directly or indirectly, the supe-
riority of their method of living, and declare it the most
Quixotic, foolish, wicked thing, to stint one's self in food
and clothes. "Folks must live." Why must they live?'
What must thev live for? To eat and wear clothes? Allow
me to say in all candor and reverence, I should rather die
than thus exist. Of course a person cannot live without
food and raiment, but that these should be the chief concern,
the object and end of existence, as it were, is pitiful and
humiliating among a people who have enjoyed the benefits
of civilization, and have some degree of education and in-
telligence. A sudden and complete change of circumstances
compelled me to choose w^iich I would serve, and which
should serve me — mind or matter. I don't know as I hes-
itated at all ; certain things I knew I must have, certain
others it would be possible to do without. 1 declared for
mind. I felt like one cut loose from time clinging to eternity.
This life, this perishable body, must soon go ; the little I
could still manage to do must be for the immortal part.
There was a certain tyranny of opinion to endure, afflictive
enough, and on which I grew thinner than on dried beans
and oatmeal ; the best I could do was to hold myself aloof
from it. Less than ever now could I allow others to lay
down the law for me to follow ; stern necessity was com-
peting to a more decided and pronounced individuality than
I make a brief digression to say I have been waiting a
life time to canonize any who would afford me opportunity,
but the lirst name is yet to be enrolled in my calendar of
saints. It is amazing. I don't remember that I ever took
the liberty to call any person to acc(5unt as to their particu-
lar style and method of living ; but no one enters my doors
without taking me to task, more or less sharply, often fling-
ing stern reproach and condemnation on my unsocial, un-
20 HALF A DIME A DAY. •
natural, morbid, monstrous way of life. Do not be too
much alarmed ; I am not quite an ogress or a tigress. I
simply live by myself. As if no one ever lived thus before !
Why, I know a dozen people who live thus, and are .not
scoffed at and condemned to death for it as I am. As if I
was to blame for being alone ! Was it not hard enough to
lose all near friends when comparatively young, and be left
thus, without being reproached for the aloneness, as it were ?
The iirst person who doesn't take exception, arraign, or de-
nounce me, on account of my quiet way of life, I wait to
canonize. If I were to devour myself with envy of those
happily-constituted people who, when near ties are broken,
can readily form new ones, it would not help me to have a
nature like theirs, and so it could not help my condition,
but would rather render it more grievous. There is no
loneliness like the loneliness of feelings unreplied to ; and
there is this one comfort for odd people, that no creature
God has made can seem odd or strange in his sight ; he
comprehends the full character, and at last the lonesome
spirit may un burthen itself to him, with no fear of being
misapprehended or misunderstood.
And yet if there might be a somebody who would think
enough of earth and earthly things to treat them nicely, and
yet not be engrossed in them and enslaved by them, to the
utter neglect and forgetfnlness of higher and better things,
such a choice sort of somebody it might be safe, pleasant,
and helpful to have near. But so many live rudely and
grossly, and care for no better way, do not believe there is
any better way, and mock at refinement and insult good
taste and order.
Thus there has always been a tendency to criticism in my
case, and when reverses came people were freer than ever to
express views, offer advice, and point out the proper course
of action, •
" Let your place, or sell it, and buy a snug cottage ;" or
''hire your board, and have things nice and comfortable as
long as you live,'' said one ; and another :
HALE A DIME A DAY. 21
" I wish I was as sure of being comfortably provided for
in old age as you are."
Such persons were either ignorant of circumstances, or
lacked good sense, or were thoughtless and unfeeling. To
let my place, experience told me would be fraught with loss
and annoyances my present state of health could not endure.
As to selliniT it, I loved it better than life, and never under-
stood I could get more than six hundred dollars for it; but
if I could have got twice that sum, and essayed to buy an-
other, little would have been left for my support. My table
would not have been much better supplied than at present,
and life would not have been life away from the old home.
If I had hired my board, the money would have slipped
from me almost before I was aware, probably, and left me
on public charity. My house might have held a few board-
ers, if I could have superintended them, but my crippled
arm, poor health, and nervous depression, would not admit
of this. 1 should have to see it go into dilapidation and
decay, if life was much prolonged. The roofs leaked now,
the windows were rickety, the chimney discharged a mourn-
ful brickbat in every driving storm. Out of the wreck of all,
if I could garner enough to subsist, save a few dollars for
good books, and a few more to help any worse oft* than my-
self, and add a mite to benevolent causes, it was all I hoped
or expected. Thus far I have done this. I have lived and
thrived in a small way on half a dime a day, or rather, on
forty dollars a year, all things included. For clothing there
has been no outlay of money. Contrivance and a crippled
hand has supplied all my garments. As to fuel, 1 am not
accustomed to provide more than three cords a year, nine
dollars usually, and manage to saw most of it as I want to
use it ; save in winter, I pick up the wood I burn — dead
tree-limbs, pine-cones, and moss for kindlings. For almost
all cooking, as I have said, I use an oil-stove. On this I
often heat a freestone, and wrap myself up, so as not to
require a lire in my air-tight stove till pretty cool weather.
The cold snaps in winter are so paralyzing to the partially
22 HALF A DIME A DAY.
perished arm, I can do no kind of work ; so then when I can
earn nothing, I can at least save wood by covering up in bed.
I do not exactly, like the mole and dormouse, burrow for the
winter. In mild spells I thaw out, and do my best to bring
up things that have fallen into arrears during the cold term.
I search the drawers and closets in the old house to see if I
may not come upon some material out of which to fashion
some small holiday gifts for children and friends who bring
me baskets of benefaction at times through the year. I
ought to have made mention of these before.
It has been my experience in falling into adverse fortune
to receive most aid and kindness from sources I should not
have expected to receive from : from persons comparatively
strangers till the adversity befell, that I had done no favors
and had no claims on ; while others I thought would increase
their friendliness and oiFerings have withdrawn and made
themselves strangers; I know not, nor ever shall know the
reason why. But I must not speak of this; it was a greater
agony than the loss of money.
The only sympathy deserving the name has come from
those who have been themselves sufferers ; many have
mocked me with their pity because they did not know my
pain ; others have ignored the great trouble and loss, and
carried themselves as if it were but a morbid imagination,
thus adding insult to indifference. Under most of the prof-
fered advice or consolation I have needed to pray every
moment, " Forgive them, they know not what they do," for
it all was but afflicting the afflicted.
My most efficient aid has never come from the rich ; they
have made some casual proffer, and soon forgot it, leaving
me more distressed than before it was made. From the
but moderately well off, from the widow in straitened cir-
cumstances, the best help has come. They have been more
ready to divide their little, than the rich to give out of such
an abundance that they would never feel or miss the charity
bestowed, if that be a charity which costs neither sacrifice
HALF A DIME A DAY. 2^
The friends of life's darker dav8 will never he forijotten :
they enahle one to think hetter of human nature ; tliat there
are a few here and there who are drawn rather than repelled
by adversity ; who show a practical belief in the Bible,
which says, '' Remember the poor,'' rather than in the Ko-
ran, which says, " Deal with the fortunate."
But it may be said in this style of living there was no
provision for incidental expenses or contingencies, and no
one can live long without encountering these. Very true ;
when my gate-fastenings were stolen (or when they evapo-
rated, or the wind blew them away), I tied it together with
strings ; when the shed rained down too hard in one spot, I
moved the wood-pile to another (fortunately it never took
more than live minutes) ; when thirty shot-holes were put
throui^h a front window bv some wanton hand, I closed the
blinds and lee it go ; when the plastei'ing dropped down in
the rooms, I pasted patches of cloth over the bare brown
lathes. No money now for repairs. Such jobs must lay
over till " my ship came in.''
I was often told in these years that I must not look on the
dark side, but pray and trust, and all would be well. \
noticed the persons who were so ready with this advice were
such as had ample means to meet all their necessary expen-
ses and provide for contingencies. With well-tilled stomachs,
well-stored pantries, well-roofed dwellings, they came where
all these things were wanting, and complacently, reproving-
ly, bade poverty and pain " Look on the bright side, be re-
signed, trust and pray." I recoiled from them with inex-
pressible horror. I was as one stricken dumb. I don't
know as any prayer passed my lips for months, beyond aii
agonized groan, and I did not know what trust and resigna-
tion meant. 1 did not think about these things. Life was
paralyzed. There were many who w^ould say, " If you want
anything, let us know." It is needless to say I never wanted
anything on that invitation. Thus they would compel me
to; the asking of perpetual doles. There was acute suffer-
ino- in the most sensitive faculties, and for honorable rea-
24 HALF A DIME A DAY.
sons. One who has no pride or ambition, no proper con-
sideration for his standing in society, and would as soon
hang lielpless on the hands of others as strive for his own
support, would not be W(>rthy the name of man. There
had been such a wrench and revoUuiou in affairs that all my
life-long habits and ways were changed, and I didn't know
myself, or the world I was in. I even apprehended that
real estate might become unreal beneath my feet ; if the
walls of my house had shattered down into a pile of jack-
straws, 1 don't know as I should have been surprised, so
overwhelming on me was the uncertainty, the evanescent
nature of all sublunaiy things. One and another prayed for
my fortune to come back. I should just as soon have
thoui^ht of praying for my mother to come back. They
said I must ask God to take my pain away. I don't think
I ever did ; though I had no formula of words, the burden
of my spirit was, " Make me like to thee, O Saviour." 1
was to pray for daily bread, and I had it ; but the loaf did
not drop down from the sky, and as I opened the window
come in and take its seat on the table before me. No
miraculous manna was mine. God did not feed me by
direct miracle. None the less did he teed me, however, be-
cause he did it through the action of powers and faculties
implanted in my nature. Continuance, perseverence he
stirred up to put forth utmost endeavor. Through self-de-
nial and arithmetic I got my daily food. I believe in a
special divine Providence, but that it works within the
sphere oi natural and social laws, and emph)ys them.
" But you could make no provision for sickness on forty
dollars a year," says one. That is true, but people who live
with such severe simplicity will not be as liable to acute dis-
orders as those who are more self-indulgent. Fevers, pneu-
monias, summer complaints, I felt no apprehension of, and
thev did not visit me. I had nervous debility, heart diffi-
culty, and the crippled arm. This arm would have felt more
comfortable if 1 could have had spirits to bathe it in, but
this 1 could not afford. Had any severe illness befallen, I
HALF A DIMK A DAY.
must liHve inurtgaged the house to pay bills. But mine
were old chronic diseases that doctors or medicines could
not much beneiit, nor was I useful enough to iustity much
Thus I got along, with no end of blame, criticism, and
misrepresentation. What person ever has capacity to com-
prehend another? or will make any candid endeavor to
realize another's situation, and intelligently see and admit
what they can and what they cannot do as they are placed 'I
People are absorbed in their own affairs, and their judg-
ments of others are very superficial, very unjust often,
based on no correct understanding of the circumstances
which environ the life of the individual they arraign and
condemn, perhaps. They take full cognizance of whatever
comes within the sphere of their own interests and desires,
but other people, with far different views and aspirations,
they do not comprehend. They are strange, there is some-
thing wrong about them.
" Where might be your home, Mr. V' asked a back-country
woman of a traveller who called at her door.
" Boston, madam," was the polite response.
'• Dear, dear, what makes you live so yar off?" was the
So people that differ widely from our ideas and pursuits
we regard as '' far off'," and are inclined to look on with a
sort of condescending pity, though theirs should be the
privileged city, while ours is but the rude or barren wilder-
" Take every one's advice, and then do as you please,"
says somebody. I had to do so. Everybody advised me to
eat my house. How was it possible to accept such advice (
I was not a rat or squirrel, and had not the requisite mas-
ticating apparatus. I used to wish I could eat the barn
sometimes ; if it had been built of bread instead of boards,
a considerable portion of it would be wanting now, I doubt
not, for there were some long, dreadful months of which I
speak not at all. But to sell my buildings in order that 1
26 HALF A DIME A DAY.
might eat pound-cake, when I could peacefully inhabit them
with my pot of oatmeal, what a shameful, inglorious thing
to do ! How should I ever be able to look my parents in
the face hereafter? The old house was all there was left;
a shelter, a hiding-place, for I was as some hunted creature
driven to bay. If I could bear to live, how could I bear to
die elsewhere 'i 1 had great love of locality, and my ad-
hesiveness was as hoops of steel. With the forces of my
nature at their best, I doubt if I could have summoned up
resolution to dissever myself from the old place. Now I
did not entertain such a thouirht.
There was a pathetic tale in one of my papers, at this
time, of two sisters who had lived past middle age in a cer-
tain room of the house in which they were born. They
kept every article of furniture standing just where it had
stood when they were little children growing up with their
mother. They supported themselves by hand-sewing ; at
length machines came and cut them off; they could get no
work. One of them fell ill, the other got worn out taking
care of her, and the wolf was upon them. The overseer of
the poor went and said it was no use trying to keep along
any further ; they must sell off what they had, and go to the
almshouse to be supported. The sister who told the pitiful
tale said she guessed the man didn't mean to be unkind,
but he spoke in a hard way ; she supposed he couldn't know
what their feelings were ; and after he was gone, the younger
sister, who had been nursing the invalid one, went wild, walk-
ed round and round the room, touching each precious article
of furniture, whispering: to herself and wringing her hands.
The sick one cried herself to sleep, and when she awoke her
faithful nurse was gone. After three days she was found
afar off among some desolate hills, but reason had left her.
She just moaned, ^' Don't let them take away my mother's
little table ; don't let them break us up and send us to the
Some ^humane people were at length moved to save the
few articles of furniture, and make a provision by which the
HALF A DIME A DAY. 27
pair could have a hmnble room to themselves, with the
things they prized so much around them. But the help
came too late to one of tiie poor sisters; seasonably given,
it might have saved her from breaking dc>wn. She was
never herself again, but lived years in a harmless insanity,
and the elder one, who took patient care of her, said, '* 1
suppose it is too bad in me, but sometimes I can but think
how different it all miiiht have been if onlv some one had
found out our need and helped a little before poor Harriet
Ah, yes; if people would not let their good deeds lag,
and give the little lift, the small help, at the right moment,
which means so much before and so little after the Harriets
of the world break down, how large an amount of suffering
might be spared.
This pathetic tale made a deep impression on my mind in
my present circumstances. Were I reduced to the condition
of this hapless Harriet, I should have no sister to take care
of me. I believe from sheer inability to act I remained
quiescent at this time, and my ears were pained by reproaches
uttered and reproaches implied. T^o one looked beyond my
physical well being, and this had quite dropped out of sight
with me. It depressed and distressed me to hear it named.'
I was dragged down and set to complaining by people's
words. When left to myself I maintained for the most part
a much better frame of mind. There were moments when
1 sunk utterly down, and cried, " Oh, but to see for an hour
the world wear its wonted look ; to have the burden lifted ;
t<) have wiped out the memory of cruel wrong ; to feel I've
enough for all my own wants and to help others ; that there
need be no more struggle or anxiety; and then to die be-
fore the dread reality is rolled back on me."
But these were moods, the fluctuations of feeling not at
my control while the mind staggered under a succession of
severe shocks.. There would be the ebb and flow of courage
and resolution. My constructive faculty was a help and
comfort ; it kept me occupied planning and devising ways
2S HALF A DIME A DAY.
and means of getting along. Then I would read something
that tended to moral growth and improvement of character,
and ponder and meditate upon it. It seemed to me as if I
was managing with my mind as a mother will sometimes
manage with a child that inclines to an object hurtful and
dangerous, by coaxing off its attention in other directions,
and fixing it on objects it may safely enjoy. I had also a
certain power of concentration which I had held in much
disesteem heretofore ; it often made me ap))ear abstracted
and moody. But now it was one of my best friends, as 1
could, after a brief conflict, become absorbed in the occupa-
tion of the hour, and be intently knitting my sale-socks,
counting up the proceeds, and thinking what I would buy
with the money. I did a dozen pairs in a month by great
industry, and got two dollars. This 1 could not do all the
time, owing to my painful, crippled arm. The work was
furnished me by a Shaker society. These " peculiar people''
were very kind to me in many generous and thoughtful
ways. There was a sweet *' Sister Mary," a poetess, skilled
to make graceful and excellent gifts. She furnished me
with all the tea 1 had for years. 1 am not an habitual in-
dulger in the herb ; coffee I do not use ; chocolate but occa-
sionally. Luckil}^ I was brought up on cold water, which
is my favorite and accustomed beverage still. These Sliaker
Sisters of Charity carried me through one dark, dreadful
time of sickness, destitution, and neglect. I shall ever
remember them with emotions of gratitude and respect.
Dr. Warner has sharply arraigned the sect. Their way of
life seems harmless, if eccentric. Of their doctrines I can-
not say more than this : " The tree is known by its fruits/"
They are a people of eminent cleanliness, industry, kind-
ness, virtue, and good deeds, and this is no contemptible
record, nor one that any person need blush for. Their man-
ners and customs may invite some harmless criticism, but to
enjoy their hospitality, and then make their peculiarities the
target for public satire and ridicule, seems ungenerous and
HALF A DIME A DAY. 29
But to resume my narrative : in my humiliation and low-
estate I would have hailed with joy, as I have said before,
any benevolent work, had there been an opening for one so
poor and reduced as myself. I languished most of all be-
cause I could do nothino^ to help an^^body ; the cruelest
thing in the loss of property was that 1 had nothing more
to give, no means to aid others. I was not renowned for
prudential morality ; folks would tell nie I must be more
sellish — was it not awful ? Surely it was. T hope I never
heeded them, but doubtless I did.
So at length the summing up of the whole story is, I have
got along on forty dollars per annum for a number of years,
and sustained sufficient vitality for a recluse, inactive life;
a crippled invalid could not well lead any other. I have a
few household articles held in reserve against emergencies :
the best things, however, were parted with in my darkest
time. As to clothing, I hardly need more than two wrap-
pers in a year, and may reasonably hope to retain the red-
checkered tablecloths to fall back upon in case of necessity.
Of them 1 can fashion a warm-weather gown that will last
and outlast a good many seasons, and for a winter garment
a widow has promised to sell me for a trifle a large coverlet
with some mouse-holes knawed in it. It is of coarse cotton,
with overshot bars of woolen, such as were woven by our
grandmothers. It is not indigo-blue-and-white, as were
many coverlets of this period, but chocolate-and-white, of
medium sized plaids. This I purpose to d3'e of a dark color,
and convert into a cold-weather dress, if need be. I was
always taught to have some foresight for the future. As to
shoes, I've still enough of the fulled cloth of the old over-
coat of my father's to supply me a lifetime. Bonnets don't
signify, as I have. practically demonstrated by successfully
repudiating them for the space of four years. So I am
provided with clothing for an indefinite period to come. 1
do not see as I need to spend fifty cents in five, perhaps in
ten years, should I live so long, to help procure any neces-
sary article of dress. So I may lay by enough to patch the
3© HALF A DIME A DAY.
leaky roof and putty the most clattering glass into the most
clatteiing windows. I ought to be able to hold my own on
reading, and have an extra dollar or two for charity.
1 do not say my tastes and aspirations are gratified in this •
stern, severe life. No, they are all, or nearly all, sacriiiced.
My eye hungers : if by chance I get a glimpse of some rare
picture, or other " thing of beauty," a great pan^j convulses
me ; for the world of art is and must be an unknown world
to me. Only the few familiar views in nature round my
low valley home may my eyes behold ; the changing sea-
sons make the sole variety. My ear hungers for all sweet
sounds. I hear but nature's music — the birds in summer,
the roaring winds in winter. I read of other lands than
ours : from the printed page alone must I draw my knowl-
edge of them. I shall never see grand old England, beau-
tiful France, wild Switzerland, classic Greece, sacred Pales-
tine. It had been the dearest hope of my life to some time
know them by the seeing of the eye ; the tears come, the
heart aches, as it cries, " What loss, what loss." I was the
most enthusiastic traveller ; my delight mounted into
ecstasy. I was unconscious of fatigue and above annoyance.
Art and beauty were as thrones whereon I walked in supreme
exaltation. But these were lost delights; the hand I had
deemed so trusty was scattering my few^ thousands when I
knew it not, and all had been gone beyond retrieval years
before it was suffered to come to my knowledge.
But my wants grow fewer and simpler as to the body ;
the mind is just as clamorous as ever ; it is the humored
child that has got the upper hand. I keep the magazines,
and get now' and then a new book. All my reading is
valuable, and will thus bear going over again and again. My
relish is keen and vigorous. I have reason to thank God
every day that he gave me a taste for reading, as this one
taste J am able to gratify in a measure. Sometimes I think
it has been my salvation from total wreck and imbecility of
mind ; it was my one solace and relief in darkest times,
and the love and gratitude I bear those authors whose words
HALF A DIME A DAY. 3J
gave me sustaining support, and inspired to hope and en-
deavor, are the deepest and most cherished feeh'ngs of my
heart. Pre-eminent among them are Mr. Beecher, Phillips
Brooks, Whittier, and Dr. Holland. I pometimes dream 1
see and converse with them so pleasantly ; these dream-land
interviews are more heartening than those with real flesh
and blood often, for the vail seems to be done away in them.
There is perfect clearness and comprehension. But let me
not incur the charge of mysticism, foi- I am in truth the
most real and practical creature, only given to moods now
and then. Who is not?
My fortune has not returned ; my loss has not been made
up to me in any worldly sense ; I have not escaped poverty ;
I have only disarmed it, in a measure, and that by letting go
of lower things and reaching up to higher. 1 never loved
shams, or was good at feigning what I did not feel. Gen-
teel worldlings complained of my bluntness. It is not pos-.
sible for me to make an appearance in society, but if I thus
lose much, I feel I also escape nmch; there are many evil
things in society. Mine is a sincere and real life, sitting
loose to time, and looking serenely towards eternity. Dark
things, mysterious things, as touching the conduct of others
towards me in days of sorest need and trouble, have per-
plexed and pained my mind — have been beyond the bitter-
ness of death to my soul. When the secrets of all hearts
are revealed these things shall be made plain.
Wealth brings great responsibilities; I do not suppose I
should have known how to administer it wisely and well.
But mine was only a competence, and the chief comfort of
my life was gone when 1 no longer had it to deal out from as
I could in benevolent ways. T only wish I had given more
while 1 could.
But words like these are idle. What is gone cannot be
retrieved. I have tried and succeeded in maintaining a
tolerable independence on forty dollars for a term of years,
and am encouraged to hope I may be able thus to do to the
HALF A DIME A PAY.
If tliis recital is deetned indelicate, I am most imliai)py it
I leave the impression that I obtrude on the public a tale of
loss and need after the fashion of a beggar. This is not a
polite or an impolite solicitation of alms. It is a declara-
tion ot independence rather— I don't know but a proud
one. I dare not say it is not egotism, but it is the egotism
of humble things— even of oatmeal and home-made woolen
Bhoee, ^' ^* •
Thi8 Pokm was used acceptabh' as a Lecture, till loss «)f health
prevented the author from going abroad with it, and is published by
request of friends who wished to retain it in more permanent form.
L. H M
•- • -•
•• For so an entranci* shall l>e ministered unto you abundantly into the evcrUu^tinjj
kint;dom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." 2 Peter 1:11.
There rose a stately mansion on a fashionable street.
In all the proud regalia of wealth it stood complete ;
The bigli brick walls looked as if they might any shock endure.
Against all common menace there life would be secure.
'Twi.xt bronzed lions on the porch the owner went and came,
A man of wealth, position, influence, by common fame :
From small beginnings he had won his way to this renown,
AVhate'er 'tis worth, that he was "one of the heaviest men in town."
In two ways heavy : as to purse and person, short and stout.
Priding himself that he had quite an aristocratic gout,
Wiiich made it prudent he a plethoric supper should forego.
Which he did, saying piously, "Self denial's good for the flesh, you
This man sat over the register in his parlor grand and fair,
With a purse-proud, consequential, no-trouble-can-catch-me air ;
'Gainst wreck and ruin, disaster, misfortune, woe. I'm proof,
Such ugly shapes, such untoward things, "come not beneath my roof."
When he heard the name of a friend that embarked with him in the
world's hot strife,
He would ask, as he blandly stroked his beard. " Has he had success in
And if it was answered back, " Success ! He's as rich as a silver
Our rich man would smile his sweetest, and say, " I shall ask him home
4 ABUNDANT ENTRANCK.
'' I remember how as a little chap he'd have the best end in a trade.
He could always hold his own, and knew, as a boy, how money was
I'm not surprised to know as a man he's made in the world his mark.
And has his live-storied mansion in midst of a splendid park.
"But his morals are none of the best, 'tis said ; his charities seldom
"Ah, gossip and scandal— the rich are always criticised and abused
B}^ the envious poor, the spiritless ones, who haven't the pluck or grit
To build their own fortunes, and snarl at all who have the skill and
On the rich man's walls hung gems of art from over oceans wide ;
There rose the fair white castles of the Adriatic's bride,
There glowed the warmth and brightness of fair Italian skies.
There marbles, vases, and antiques, held captive cultured eyes.
Rare books in costly bindings in lengthened rows appear,
The quiet scholar might delight to pass a lifetime here ;
But the lord of this domain, so rich, extensive, and complete.
Read but the news and business items in the daily sheet.
Through gold-bowed spectacles he read of financial failures broad,
In self-secure serenity of another stupendous fraud !
For his own unharmed prosperity he gave a sigh of relief,
" But folks that leave things at loose ends deserve to come to grief."
•'He was always cautious, prudent — well, pretty far-sighted, too —
Always watched men with sharpness — served^ his own interests true;
No visions or schemes or lottery risks e're worried him as he slept ;
He got his gains in honest ways, and what he got he kept."
Thus he became a lord of wealth, the way was simple and plain,
If he had his life to live over he could do the same thing again ;
So there the rich man stroked his beard in his gorgeous, gilded bovver.
Saying, "See how money brings ease and safety, independence and
With all his wealth he had a greed and craving after more ;
When a relative lost the money she for age had laid in store,
He said, "If she'd give him the farm she had left, he'd see her safely
She should have a chamber furnished in oak, looking out on the avenue.''
This man held rent-rolls, mortgages, bank stock and bonds in piles.
Masses of people fawned on him with sycophantic smiles ;
He owned a pew in a splendid church, with cushions in velvet case.
And thither he walked in broadcloth with a sanctimonious face.
ABUNDANT ENTRANCK. 5
And the parsou understood his part and gracefully wory the curb.
Xo vociferous tones his wealthy patron's decorous nap to disturb !
No animadverting on sin and self, but a mild, engaging look —
He never read of Dives and Lazarus from the Holy Book !
And as the rich man and liis wife walked home in silken sheen,
He spoke of " the minister's eloquence and gracefulness of mien ;
His learning vast, his doctrine sound beyond all preachers in town.
And to secure him he had paid an extra thousand down !"
" Nothing to boast of ; 'twas his way always to buy the best ;
To help build up the church he paused not to be urged or prest ; "
But the odor of the rich man's sanctity was not too fine.
Nor unto books or knowledge or grace did he incline.
Nay, he murdered the king's English in his eftbrts to converse ;
If he tried to be agreeable, his luck was even worse !
His pleasantries degenerated into something low,
To call to modesty's white cheek the red blood's crimson glow.
Had this man to whom dollars gave dignity been numbered among thr
He would have been reckoned by one and all a vulgar, ill-mannered
But now he was just " eccentric, a trifle quaint and queer ;
He'd a right to be on an income of fifty thousand a year !"
Down back of the splendid avenue was the poorest kind of a cot,
In the window a flowering jasmine in a bit of broken pot ;
Here lived a widow and mother on wiiat her hands could glean,
By going to the house of the rich man on Mondays to wash and clean.
Sometimes as .she brushed the specks of dust from the parlor's frescoed
Her sunken eye in a passing gaze on the works of art would fall,
A sudden light would a moment flash, and a tear unbidden roll,
As a tremor of the compressed lip spoke the hunger of the soul.
But the rich man never thought of her in her humbleness and need,
Save as a luckless, spiritless one, not smart enough to succeed ;
He threw her her dole when the work was done, and so this was never
He thought no more of the poor creature than if she did not e.xist.
Why should he think of one like her ? "All people have their place.
Some hold their own and march ahead, while others lag in the race ;
Some are maudlin in capacity, some lazy, and idle, and shirk,
But the man who builds a fortune deserves to enjoy his work."
6 ABUNDANT ENTRANCE.
Thus pondered and spake the rich man, unruffled by harrowing fears,
[n the amplitude of affluence and his well-kept sixty years,
As 'twixt the bronzed lions at eve he stood and the scene surveyed.
And said in the pride of life, " No blight on this home shall be laid !"
" Some men are rash and careless, all disaster they invite,
Hut there's no trouble in keeping things straight if one but manages
My wealth shall never be swallowed up in the gulf of bankruptc}-^
And death— I'm hale and hearty — that's a long way off from me !"
So saying, he closed the great hall door that opened towards the street.
The gas burned clear, the plushy carpets hushed the tread of his feet ;
Enclosed with his own magnificence in those stately walls of brick,
A sudden pang seized on his heart, he fell down deathly sick.
The lights went out. the floor grew cold and hard beneath his frame,
He vainly strove to utter one familiar household name,
And only the poor washing-woman, 'kerchief on her head.
And brush in hand to dust the hall, there found him lying dead!
Then soon the sudden, solemn news swept all the city o'er.
And the funereal crape was knotted on to many a door.
While the body lay in state beneath the richest of velvet palls,
And Italy and the Adriatic wore sable upon the walls.
I»y pall-bearers in deepest black the casket then was lain
Within the flower-en wreathed hearse, while long and sumptuous train
Of carriages, with coal-black steeds, bore the procession slow,
To lay the bodv in that cool bed all flesh at last shall know.
And as the funeral cortege was passing beyond view,
Large groups of men and women flocked along the avenue.
To gaze with solemn admiration on the grand display.
And say, '"Tis the grandest funeral we've seen for many a day !
" Ah, sudden was the summons to deliver up his breath,
But how the rich and great of earth are honored in their death !"
One said his "home here was so fair it could hardlj' be outshone
By all the light and brilliaticy of heaven's great white thnme."
Xow I sat by an upper window as the train went by,
While all its pomp and sumptuousness passed slow before the eye.
And said, "Sure an 'abundant' exit from this life is this !
Mow will it be about the 'entrance* to the bowers of bliss ?
" When the broad and pearly portal on its golden hinges opes.
Will the choiring bands of 'seraphs fly adown the verdant slopes.
With songs and peans of welcome ringing sweetly far and clear.
To usher in the man who, dying, had such honors here ?"
And when the casket carefully was lowered to its place,
And the procession turned away with sadness in its face.
Some new power lent to sight gave me to see the man that was gone
Take up the still march from the grave in silence and alone.
At first he had the lordly tread, the consequential air.
That in the circles where he moved on earth he used to wear ;
The rich man still, engirt with power, prestige, and splendor great.
And confident of grand reception at the upper gate.
But as he trod the narrow path clear outlined to my view,
I could not long conceal the fact that he small and smaller grew;
And lost, moreover, the serene, assured, expectant air,
Seemed rather loath to reach the gate, than longing to be there.
When he at length the portal gained, it stood there closed and grim,
Oped not with smiles, as doors on earth ere opened unto him ;
A shadow of himself was left, which worked its slow way in.
But no singing or outshining did this meagre "entrance" win.
And then through mournful days in the great sumptuous mansion,
The owner was so sudden called by a strange providence,
Were heard the voices of the rich who came to sympathize.
And say the " dear deceased had g(me to God in Paradise."
The relatives, from places far, a sad and lingering throng.
Proud of their claim, if slender, to such aflHuence to belong,
Bore down with heavier burdens, till strength at last o'ertried.
The poor widow, the faithful servant, sank 'neath them and died.
Then consternation seized the mistress, thus again to be crossed ;
And lose the trusty servant just when she was needed most ;
But the orphaned boy— on the plain coffin sat the jasmine-pot —
Followed his mother ou foot alone to the poor people's lot.
Gazing from out my window I beheld this poor boy go.
Weeping along the lileak, bare street, his shoes out at the toe,
While careless persons passing saw the scant and meagre train,
And said, " Some heir of poverty has got through with the pain."'
8 ABUNDANT ENTRANCE.
But memory hurried me away to a long-gone-by time,
When this woman, going to lier grave, stood bright in life's glad prime,
With friends and hopes and prospects as fair as any spread
Round the inmates of that mansion where late she dropped down dead.
The only child of tender i)arents, reared with culturing care,
Gifted with powers beyond her sex, of taste and beauty rare ;
Her young hand skilled to use the pencil in the work of art,
Dowered as few are ever dowered with gifts of mind and heart.
And when the doting parents descended to the grave,
They left their child a competence of all that heart could crave ;
While she, with tiue beneficence, became a friend in need
To all that she could succor and relieve by generous deed.
Some years she thus dispensed her charities with modest grace.
In many a heart won for herself an enviable place,
Till crafty ones laid hands upon her lovely cottage home.
And cast her forth in penury through a cold world to roam.
Hut one true heart acknowledged her its choicest and its best,
And they twain by close industry builded a little nest ;
Vines clambered o'er the porch, and pictures on the low walls hung.
O'er the cradle the young mother-bird her sweetest carols sung.
One day the clarion call of war rang through the loyal land,
And the hus])aud buckled on his sword to join the patriot baud ;
The wife choked down the rising sob, and tried hard not to mourn,
Though feeling in her heart of hearts her lord would ne'er return.
Nor did he ; and she never knew on what dread field he fell,
Or if his bones found sepulchre no one returned to tell ;
But from the fearful stroke she rallied, thinking of her boy.
Her every power and energy for his sake to employ.
For a few years she fought the battle with a spirit brave,
Hoping her little dovecote from the sw'oop of want to save.
And then her strength forsook her, and in despairing mood
She sold the pictures from her walls to buy her daily food.
When all was gone, the neighbors bore her on a tattered bed
To the poor hut, scarce better than a rickety woodshed :
Of friends and home, with all its needed comforts so bereft.
Her little boy and the flowering jasmine, all that she had left.
And then to name the woes that came would drive a kind heart wild ;
She would have ended her own life if it had not been for the child ;
To feed and clothe her baby boy she worked when like to sink.
For him love hardness, insolence, on which slic dared not think.
ABUNDANT ENTRANCE. ^
Ofttimes the little one was tucked snug in the tattered bed,
While she went forth in the night time, storms beating on her head.
To watch beside some invalid less needing such close care,
Than the frail, tottering form that kept the midnight vigil there.
At last she found the rich man's house upon the avenue.
And the mistress said, " So nice a girl for work she never knew ;
So quiet, unobtrusive, refined in all her ways,
So much like a person who had once known better days."
And when the patient servant went home from toil at nicht
She carried in her saddened eye a faint gleam of delight.
As she told to her little boy of paintings rich and rare,
And other gems of art that decked the rich man's parlors fair.
And bow her poor heart hungered for all that she had not,
While tears fell from the weary eyes into the jasmine-pot ;
Things beautiful were unto her as life and health and power.
But her home was in a hovel, with but one pale jasmine-flower.
The very fineness of the gifts with which she was endowed
Unfitted her for contact with the rude and jostling crowd ;
Her rare, rich tastes went famishing through days of want so long.
With every hour embittered by a crushing sense of wrong.
In all the say and busy world she did no station fill.
Yet to the pure and beautiful her soul was all a thrill ;
Why she should be denied the things she would so highly prize.
Was mystery inscrutable to her weak, earth-bound eyes.
"What have I done V" tllus this poor creature would sometimes ask,
"That I can't have, like the millionaire, a house on the avenue.
All filled with works of genius, the richest spoils of art.
To charm the eye of culture, hold spell-bound mind and heart ?"
She bore along the waste of years such ruthless memories
As robbed the few hours snatched from toil of restfulness and ease :
The falsity, the slights, the woes want brings in endless train.
Known but to those who have themselves endured the cruel pain.
Her heart, refined and .sensitive, and timid as the roe.
Shrank, wounded, from coarse contact with the vulgar and the low ;
Her ear, that all sweet harmonies to rapture might have stirred.
Smarted beneath the scorching touch of ribald jest and word.
lO ABUNDANT ENTRANCE.
(Jft when she saw her little one in freaks of childish joy,
She'd thank the heavenly Father her darling was a boy ;
For thus his lot might be less hard, but better that he die
Than live to cause the widow and the fatherless to sigh.
Had this poor child of want been told that in the mansions fair
A radiant crown awaited her which she ere long sliould wear,
She would have said with listless look, "I care not for a crown,"
And she'd have bartered it, if she could, for bread and a decent gown !
Had the rich been told this child of want would wear a diadem
In splendor far outshining earth's brightest gold and gem,
They would have said, '* 'Twill ill become and set with most ill grace
Above that haggard, hollow, much-marred, and careworn face."
They could not know how one soft wave from the sea of heavenly rest
Might lave the lines of care away so deeply there impressed,
And leave the poor, jiiuched face more fair, more lovely and serene,
Than all of fairest loveliness this earth hath ever seen.
All life was pain and woe to her, her food but scant and coarse.
Against her sore besetments she beat with tailing force,
.\nd when one extra burden was added to the rest,
The fluttering breath departed from her worn and weary breast.
And as I saw the rude wagon jaunt towards the churchyard gate,
I said, "In this sad world of ours mysterious is fate ;
But yesterday the rich man's obsequies, in pomp and pride,
And now the rough pine coffin hastes its poverty to hide."
But while I gazed again, that power was given to my eyes
By which they looked along the pathway leading to the skies ;
The}^ saw a shape as of a thin-clad woman rise to view,
And wearily commence the march up towards the ether blue.
So wearily, so shrinkingly, she started on her way,
I looked to see her sink to earth in languor and dismay ;
But still she tottered on and on, until at length I saw
Her line of march a better grace and more precision draw.
When she set out the way was rough, the sky heavy and dark,
But the path grew smoother, and I heard the song of a skylark
Singing afar aloft, as 'twere from out a love-lit home ;
Then turning towards the woman, a change o'er her had come.
ABUNDANT ENTRANCE. I I
A gracefulness wUs on the garb where poverty had been,
A freer movement of the frame, a livelier look and mien ;
A kindling light within the eye, on lip a dawning smile,
Sky growing ever brighter, lark singing sweeter the while.
Until at length far upward a city I descried,
Oh, fairer than fair Venice, the Adriatic's bride ;
The splendor of the vision made me withdraw my gaze.
And I said, "This shrinking woman will falter with amaze !"
Then all the air grew vocal with songs too sweet to tell.
And when my eyes again upon the poor lone traveller fell,
What wondrous transformation was wrought in one short hour.
Wherein both soul and body burst into glorious flower.
Then I saw shining seraphs fly o'er a crystal gate,
With glad impatience on their brows, as if they ill could wait
The arrival of the traveller for whom their fair hands hold
The palm of victory, the harp, the crown of shining gold.
Once more I glanced towards the voyager, saying, "Surely now
There'll be some look of vague alarm upon that shrinking brow ;
On earth she was so poor and crushed ;" but I heard a glad, free tone
Sing, "Oh, the bliss of finding — I'm coming to my own !
"They know me, and I know them ; farewell to earth and woe,
Here's purity and beauty, the things I loved below ;
The poverty was accident, all that is left behind.
Forgotten now for ever in the bliss of immortal mind.
" Oh, joy ! my tireless footsteps shall scale the heavenly mount,
My soul shall drink in knowledge at the unfailing fount !
My eyes feast on such glories as earth has never known.
Oh, the bliss of finding— I'm coming to my own !
" The songs that long lay buried deep down in my heart's deep well,
And which there ne'er was given me the power on earth to tell.
The lips that bore repression and the seal of silence long,
Glad utterance is coming ; oh ! they're bursting into song !"
Wide swung the pearly portals to the throngs of seraphs fair.
Waving their soft white shapely hands in the sweet perfumed air ;
From o'er the crystal battlements glad strams of music rung.
As if all heaven's inhabitants in one glad chorus sung !
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Again I saw my traveller, but she faltered not a pace,
Her whole form shone at every moment with new added grace ;
She took the palm of victory, the harp, with outstretched hand.
And wore her crown as queenly as an> seraph of the band.
Then all the angel groups fell backward in a circling ring,
And bade the new comer "Go forward, hasten to the King ;
lie waiteth to receive you before the great white throne.
As one by poverty and woe stamped as his very own."
** But wont she fear the inner glories of this heavenly place ?"
I ([uestioned ; but a softer lustre now bedewed her face,
As straight her footsteps passed the portal to the shout, "All hail !"
A\ud, " Welcome home, my daughter, you're safe within the vail."
Then I thought how grand the exit on the rich man's funeral day,
And how he less and lesser grew upon the shining wa,y ;
And of the shrinking woman in her coffin of pine wood,
Who now a crowned seraph before her Saviour stood.
Then knew 1 wliat "abundant entrance" into heaven meant.
And felt I cared not how obscure my days on earth were spent ;
How bare of costly equipage I was borne to the tomb.
So I gained •* abundant entrance" to the bowers of endless bloom,
L. H. M.
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